More than mortality data: a news media analysis of COVID-19 deaths in Aotearoa, New Zealand

Article


Morgan, Tessa, Carey, Melissa, Gott, Merryn, Williams, Lisa, Egli, Victoria and Anderson, Natalie. 2021. "More than mortality data: a news media analysis of COVID-19 deaths in Aotearoa, New Zealand." Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal Of Social Sciences Online. 16 (2), pp. 419-43. https://doi.org/10.1080/1177083X.2021.1905006
Article Title

More than mortality data: a news media analysis of COVID-19 deaths in Aotearoa, New Zealand

ERA Journal ID124350
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsMorgan, Tessa (Author), Carey, Melissa (Author), Gott, Merryn (Author), Williams, Lisa (Author), Egli, Victoria (Author) and Anderson, Natalie (Author)
Journal TitleKotuitui: New Zealand Journal Of Social Sciences Online
Journal Citation16 (2), pp. 419-43
Number of Pages13
Year2021
Place of PublicationNew Zealand
ISSN1177-083X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/1177083X.2021.1905006
Web Address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1177083X.2021.1905006
Abstract

News media have an important social role during times of disruption including national emergencies. This paper bears witness to the 21 New Zealanders who died during the first lockdown due to COVID-19 by critically examining the nature of their portrayal in mainstream newspapers. We searched Knowledgebasket for newspapers published between 28 February 2020 and 13 May 2020 relating to COVID-19 deaths. Of the 147 included articles, 50 were selected for in-depth thematic analysis. Our key finding is that COVID-19 made the death of ordinary older New Zealanders newsworthy, albeit in a way that distinguished individuals by residential status. This is reflected in the themes identified: (1) Unexpected community deaths; (2) Inevitable aged residential care deaths; (3) Justification for lockdown measures. We conclude that New Zealand journalists played an important advocacy role in justifying New Zealand’s ‘go hard go early’ approach through the largely compassionate coverage of older people’s deaths.

KeywordsCOVID-19; death; media analysis; newspapers; aged residential care
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020441007. Sociology and social studies of science and technology
420503. Community and primary care
Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Auckland, New Zealand
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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